Michael Parle

Night People (2015, Gerard Lough)

Endings should never be too literal; especially not in a film where a character talks about having ambiguous endings to stories. Night People ends too literally, especially after a third act where all sorts of threads dangle near one another. Writer and director Lough doesn’t tie things up exactly, but he does go out of his way to imply the viewer has no idea what’s been going on.

The structure of the film is pretty simple. Michael Parle and Jack Dean-Shepherd are a couple of arsonists who have to pass some time; what better way than to tell a couple scary stories. It’s an old, sturdy structure to a fall back on and Parle’s so good–and Lough’s direction of the present action is awesomely creepy–the film can get away with it, especially after Dean-Sheperd’s story starts.

Unfortunately, Parle’s story is first. He doesn’t narrate it, which probably would’ve helped. Instead, the film cuts to the Michael McLaughlin digging up some weird object and getting his science nerd school chum (Eoin Leahy) to figure out how to make it work. Per the dialogue, Lough seems to be going for something Lovecraftian, but he doesn’t really get there. He also doesn’t try very hard. Some of the problem is neither McLaughlin or Leahy are likable characters, nor are they reliable enough to be sympathetic. Lough’s handling of the sci-fi elements aren’t bad at all, it’s just dramatically inert. And Andrew Norry eventually shows up and provides some solid diversion (he and Parle look like twins though).

Luckily, the second story is awesome and all thanks to its protagonist, played by Claire Blennerhassett. She’s the facilitator of deviant desires and finds herself in a dicey situation as she auditions for a promotion. Lough’s script makes some leaps, but Blennerhassett’s so good it doesn’t matter. The second story also has a lot more locations than the first and Lough has a great eye for placing his actors, something he rarely gets to do in the first story.

The reveals at the end are occasionally surprising, but the film goes out way too literally. Lough sacrifices some of the subtlety he built in the first story to give the impression of tied plot threads. Whether or not they are tied is immaterial, since Night People’s more about the sense of it all.

It’s a fine feature length debut from Lough, with fine photography from Greg Rouladh and effective music from Cian Furlong. And Blennerhassett and Parle are awesome.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Gerard Lough; photographed and edited by Greg Rouladh; music by Cian Furlong; produced by Lough and Tanya McLaughlin; released by Rogue Frame Films.

Starring Michael Parle (Mike), Jack Dean-Shepherd (Luke), Claire Blennerhassett (Faustina), Sarah Louise Carney (Lilian), Aidan O Sullivan (Robert), Michael McLaughlin (Randall), Eoin Leahy (Adam), Philip Doherty (Matt) and Kieran Kelly (Blake).


Ninety Seconds (2012, Gerard Lough)

Ninety Seconds is so well-paced and so anticlimactic, I worried I fell asleep for the third act. I did not. Writer-director Lough simply lets Seconds run out. While it isn’t perfect, Seconds is impressive.

First, Seconds is a near future movie without special effects. He implies future technology with camera angles and Cian Furlong’s excellent score. Furlong and Lough often make Seconds–a low budget short–feel like Blade Runner.

Second, the economy. Lough’s few scenes all do a lot of work as they play out. They’re long scenes and never boring. Lough keeps the viewer distant from the protagonist, played by Andrew Norry, which proves another good move.

Greg Rouladh both photographs and edits Seconds. Many of its problems stem from the former. The camerawork lacks confidence.

That technical weakness and Claire J. Blennerhassett’s bad performance as Norry’s sidekick hurt Seconds, but it’s still a worthwhile short.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Gerard Lough; director of photography, Greg Rouladh; edited by Rouladh; music by Cian Furlong; produced by Lough and Michael Parle.

Starring Andrew Norry (Mark), Michael Parle (Phillips), Claire J. Blennerhassett (Ralfi), Simon Fogarty (Gibson) and Emma Eliza Regan (Elly).


The Stolen Wings (2009, Gerard Lough)

Has any good ever come from digital video being used instead of film? The Stolen Wings suggests no.

Director of photography Greg Rouladh doesn’t know how to light for video, but he also doesn’t know how to light for angles. It’s also director Lough’s fault. He should’ve caught the five or six garish jump cuts.

It’s too bad because Wings has some nice moments. It’s a fairy tale, literally, with some Princess Bride bookends. Instead of Peter Falk, Natasha O’Brien’s reading a story. O’Brien does fine with the narration, but she really shines at the finish when she gets out some difficult dialogue and makes it feel natural.

The fairy tale part should be a lot better… again, it’s video. The effects feel more appropriate for a silent and Lough’s techniques match that tone. But it seems too artificial (the visible Christmas light bulbs don’t help).

Still, Wings isn’t bad.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Gerard Lough; director of photography, Greg Rouladh; edited by Rouladh; music by Cian Furlong; produced by Lough and Michael Parle.

Starring Natasha O’Brien (Baby Sitter), Sasha Philips (Little Girl), Michael Parle (Wizard) and Michela Parle (Fairy).


The Boogeyman (2010, Gerard Lough)

The Boogeyman seems like it should be better, but maybe only because the short’s deficiencies are so obvious and director Lough’s ambitions so clear.

Lough layers the narrative, using an absurd psychologist appointment as a frame. He really should have watched some “Bob Newhart” for some realism. But his composition is okay and the film’s failings are his responsibility but not his fault.

First, the music. Cian Furlong’s score is laughable. Ringtones are more musically accomplished.

Second is the photography and the editing. Greg Rouladh gets credited for both. He shoots too dark half the time and too bright the rest. Boogeyman almost looks like it was done on half-inch VHS.

As for the editing–well, the sound editing is incompetent.

So why isn’t it worthless?

Lead Simon Fogarty is great. He even gets past the weak expository dialogue and the inherent silliness.

But he can’t save it overall.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Gerard Lough; screenplay by Lough, based on a story by Stephen King; director of photography, Greg Rouladh; edited by Rouladh; music by Cian Furlong; produced by Martin Neely and Lough.

Starring Simon Fogarty (Andrew Billings), Michael Parle (Dr. Harper) and Joanne Cullen (Rita).


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